Jan 23, 2019

Venezuelan leader Juan Guaidó addresses a crowd in Caracas on January 23, 2019

NEW YORK (January 23, 2019) — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) welcomes the recent statements by numerous heads of state officially recognizing Juan Guaidó, leader of the democratically-elected, opposition-controlled National Assembly, as interim president of Venezuela. The statements — made so far by the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Chile, Costa Rica, GuatemalaPeru, Ecuador, the United States of America, and Canada, as well as the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro — come amid countrywide protests demanding the resignation of dictator Nicolás Maduro. HRF demands that the Maduro regime refrain from using violence against peaceful demonstrators, step down, and allow for democratic elections to be convened immediately.

“Venezuelans have spent decades advocating for their freedom. The first anti-Maduro protests made international headlines in 2014. Since then, Venezuelans have put their lives on the line again and again, flooding the streets to vociferously oppose Maduro’s regime. Finally, five years later, the international community has heard them,” HRF President Thor Halvorssen said. “It is an outrage that it took the international community so long to recognize chavismo for what it is. But I’m glad it has finally joined the fight. Formally recognizing the authority of Venezuela’s only democratically-elected branch is a crucial first step, and I hope that with international support, Venezuelans can finally achieve the justice and democracy that they deserve.”

Nicolás Maduro has ruled Venezuela since 2013; he was Hugo Chávez’s chosen successor and took over in unfree and unfair elections shortly after Chávez’s death. Since then, he has continued Chávez’s despotic rule, tanked the country’s economy, and used security forces to violently suppress dissent. In 2017, he wrested legislative power from the democratically-elected, and opposition-controlled, National Assembly by instructing the regime-controlled Supreme Court to vacate all of its decisions and handing legislative powers to the Constituent Assembly. Just this Monday, the subservient court declared null and void all acts performed by the National Assembly in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Juan Guaidó’s claim to the presidency stems from Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution, which reads that the National Assembly president can assume office when the president has “abandon[ed] his position.”

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

HRF will convene programming on Venezuela at our upcoming Oslo Freedom Forum in Mexico, taking place on February 26. For more updates or to register, click here.

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